The 4 Cs of Medical Care
Most doctors that have been in the medical field know the importance of one thing — time. However, not all of them realize that time is just as precious to the patient as well as the doctor. The 4 Cs will help current medical practitioners become better doctors and so I am sharing this knowledge here. These are not of my own making, but those of us that have been in the medical profession long enough live by these 4 principles as they help us to become the caring professionals our patients wish for us to be.
The 4 Cs are as follows:
In order to make sure that we can make a true and accurate diagnosis of a patient’s ailment, we have to practice competency. We can accomplish this by reviewing all presenting symptoms and tying these into the patient’s medical history to ascertain if any of the current ailments had been experienced before and what were the recommendations, as well as medications, that were prescribed to the individual. However, competency doesn’t end there. Looking at the medical history, the patient’s current diagnosis along with the treating practitioner’s education, should help the medical practitioner conclude the correct cause of the ailment and prescribe treatment and/ or medication that would have the optimal results in curing the patient.
A week or two post prescribing treatment and/ or medication, the doctor should follow up to see how the patient is recuperating. Checking in with the patient not only fulfills the doctor’s obligation towards the patient, but it also fulfills the obligation that we, as medical practitioners, have for ourselves.
Good communication is not just necessary in the medical field, but in all of our work and personal lives. However, more than any other profession, good communication is an obligation that you have as a medical practitioner to your patient. It helps to ensure that he/ she understands all severities of their current diagnosis as well as options towards a cure from the ailment.
Most patients do not question the competency of their doctors, but they do question communication, and doctors that communicate poorly have a higher percentage of patients changing to an another doctor. A proactive approach would also be to make sure that the patient has understood your recommendations for him/ her accurately by asking them to ask any questions they have and also to repeat to you what has been discussed. More often, than not, if the patient can accurately repeat back to you what your medication suggestions, treatment options and severities are, he/ she will have a better understanding of the whole picture.
As stated earlier, time is precious for everyone — both doctors and the patients that they are treating — and so it helps for a medical practitioner to have flexible hours to be able to see his/ her patients. It is something that patients look for when they choose a doctor. Having office hours on the weekends or at nights gives a sense of reassurance to the patient that he/ she will definitely have a chance to be seen by their doctor and will not have to put aside other things (i.e. work, child care) to make sure they arrive on time for their appointment.
In addition to extending hours, doctors should note that wait time — another aspect of the patient’s complete time devoted to the session — should be as short as possible. Granted that wait times cannot be helped, and some patients will require more of your time than others, but you should try your best to reduce the time your patients end up waiting for you.
Agreed that all of the preceding Cs are important, compassion, however, is probably the most vital of the 4 Cs in building a strong foundation with your patient. Make sure to listen to the concerns of your patient by giving him/ her 100% of your attention and time. Allay any fears that he/ she might have before you end the session and go to your next patient. It’s not easy and compassion is something that comes with experience.
A step in the right direction of becoming a compassionate and caring doctor for your patients is empathy. Being emphatic to their concerns, their doubts, putting possible misconceptions they might have of a diagnosis to rest, will only help them understand their predicament better and come to a closure with it.